Every year for the past seven years, REFLECTIONS has set aside one week in late December to treat readers to an early holiday present, and this year is no exception. What is the present, you ask? Well, instead of spotlighting just one of your favorite creators, we have over a dozen, all answering the same question:
“What was your favorite comic book of 2008?”
It’s a simple question with a diverse selection of answers (some creators had to choose two!) that should serve you well for that comic shopping excursion for the loved ones you left till the last minute (naughty naughty!) or for a good few hours of reading after the chaos and present-wrapping of the season.
That said, let’s begin.
Written by Mark Millar
Illustrated by Tommy Lee Edwards
It was a "voyage" back to the time I was a kid discovering the excitement of the ‘80s Marvel Comics with their iconic superheroes and villains. Because all those feelings of nostalgia that got me, “1985” is the best reading of the year for me.
Written and illustrated by Frank Miller
I never had a lot of affection for it back in the day. To my memory, it was printed on that ugly flat stock -- or maybe it wasn't and I'm just twisted that way -- and now in its full blown, slick backed, hold the blacks oversized printing, it's totally badass. I can't believe that both Millar and Bendis are sitting somewhere curled up with this cup of yummy awash with blood wishing like hell that someday we all do work this good!
Written by Geoff Johns
Illustrated by Gary Frank & Jon Sibal
First time since John Byrne in the '80s that I've actually bought a monthly Superman book off the stands (even though I get it for free if I wait long enough -- but I couldn't wait). Fave moment: Supergirl noticing Cat Grant's implants!
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Written by Joss Whedon, various
Illustrated by Georges Jeanty, various
I'm fan of Joss's writing and the worlds he creates. “Angel,” “Buffy,” “Serenity” and “Dr. Horrible” are rich with possibilities. “Angel” is being published by IDW and “Buffy” and “Serenity” by Dark Horse. “Serenity” has only two minis and hopefully more to come. (crossing fingers)
”Buffy Season Eight” picks up right where it should—three months later, and familiar faces are once again entertaining me. The dialogue is Whedonesque and I can hear how the actors would read there lines. It's fun and witty and we’re treated to more fantastical stories than the WB/UPN could ever pony up the money to do.
Written by J. Michael Straczynski
Illustrated by Olivier Coipel & Mark Morales
I buy this book for the art. I think the team of Olivier and Mark is fantastic. They are a great team, his designs are fantastic Olivier can draw the quiet scenes and some really powerful fights. There is such scope to his art I'm consistently in awe of his work. I've followed him from “Legion Lost” to every book since then. Never disappointed with his work. Mark’s inks are superb—there is such control in his lines that it seems like it's effortless. I'd be lucky enough to hopefully work with his some day but I'm sure Olivier keeps him pretty busy—a good inker is a precious commodity.
Written by Ed Brubaker
Illustrated by Steve Epting, Mike Perkins and Luke Ross
It's just so consistent and solid and entertaining. Each issue reads like the next episode of a superb TV show. I love how Ed has made it so gritty and real world (that hard-tech espionage feel) while continuing to honor the character's larger-than-life heritage and continuity. It's regular monthly servings of honest-to-god genius, exactly what Cap should be.
Justice Society of America
Written by Geoff Johns
Illustrated by Dale Eaglesham, various
In second place would be Geoff Johns and Dale Eaglesham's “JSA,” which is just very slightly more wonderful than Geoff Johns and Gary Frank's “Action Comics.” Curse the man's talent! If I was allowed (I know I'm not), I'd also pick “Guardians of the Galaxy,” but only because of Paul Pelletier's astonishing and, I believe, wildly underrated art.
Captain Britain and MI:13
Written by Paul Cornell
Illustrated by Leonard Kirk
Not only is it the continuance of the adventures of the good Captain of Britain but it also follows on from the smashingly splendid "Wisdom" miniseries. Paul Cornell hits all the right buttons and plays around expertly with all the character interactions.
Guardians of the Galaxy
Written by Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning
Illustrated by Paul Pelletier
The momentum of this series never falters from the rollercoaster rattling of the crisp, smart script to the bombastically beautious dexterity of the artwork from Paul and Rick. Fantastic stuff all round.
Written by Phil Hester
Illustrated by Michael Broussard, Jorge Lucas and Ryan Winn
It's always difficult to reinvent an established character and have it be as meaningful and interesting as the original take, but Phil Hester managed to do just that. His Jackie Estacado has quickly become the definitive portrayal of the character in my mind. Even some of our most ardent fans who were initially resistant to the changes in the title have been converted. Wrap it up with beautiful artwork by Broussard & Winn and Lucas and I'm really proud of this book.
The Umbrella Academy: Apocolypse Suite
Written by Gerard Way
Illustrated by Gabriel Bá and James Jean
Debuting a brand new concept is always daunting and I don't know that anyone knew what to expect from a book conceived and written by a rock star. It was a pleasant surprise in every respect. New ideas, sharp dialogue, beautiful unique artwork, and as I always expect from James Jean - masterful, haunting covers. Highly, highly recommended and I can't wait to read "Dallas."
Get Your War On: The Definitive Account of the War on Terror, 2001-2008
Written and illustrated by David Rees
A month after 9/11, cartoonist David Rees started "Get Your War On," a brilliant comic strip that used clip art and trash talk to deliver a scathing indictment of the Bush Administration's build up to the Iraq War. Shocking, fearless, angry, profane, and savagely, hopelessly sane, the strip's absolutely hilarious in the most desperate way imaginable. Simultaneously the saddest and funniest comic strip I've read all year.
Written by Jimmy Palmiotti & Justin Gray
Illustrated by Jordi Bernet
Action and angst in the old west, told through a series of done-in-one stories that all piece together to form a greater whole—who could ask for anything more!
Kirby: King of Comics
Written by Mark Evanier
Despite my admiration of Jack Kirby's legacy of comic book work, I was initially wary of any "anti-Stan Lee/anti-Carmine Infantino bias" I feared I might find within this book, due to author Evanier's closeness to the subject.
But after leafing through it at a store in Pittsburgh, I was agape upon seeing not only the rarest of Kirby artwork and photos, but a truly fair, balanced account of Kirby's incredible life and talents. Also, this oversized book is perfectly designed, right down to the paper stock, which reproduces original art pages in exquisite grays and brilliant colors.
If you thought you were familiar with all things Kirby before, “Kirby: King of Comics” will prove you wrong.
Written by Arvid Nelson
Illustrated by Will Conrad
Artist Will Conrad has show great potential for awhile now, with some particularly strong work on his two "Serenity" miniseries with Joss Whedon. But on this new "Kull" project at Dark Horse, I think it's his best work -- strong storytelling, powerful action, real emotion, great detail work, and a balls-to-the-wall sense of power from his main character. Definitely check it out.
The Popeye Collections
by E.C. Segar
This year, like the last two before it, my favorite book was Fantagraphics reprints of E.C. Segar's original Popeye (AKA Thimble Theatre) strips. Yes, it only comes out once a year, but this collection of vintage daily, Sunday and bonus strips is always well worth the wait.
Skyscrapers of the Midwest
Written and illustrated by Joshua Cotter
I feel kind of goofy putting a collection of older material in my best of 2008, but seeing all of Josh's comics compiled in one volume really intensifies the reading experience. Josh does such an admirable job depicting the loneliness, alienation, and ultimately, the unlikely hopefulness of growing up in a small town that for a few days after reading it I couldn't work on my own stuff. You'll be hard pressed to find a better use of visual allegory than God as a giant robot or junior high love as a Claremont scripted super hero battle anywhere in comics. That's what makes Skyscrapers so great- It can only function this well because it is a comic book.
Stickleback: England’s Glory
Written by Ian Edginton
Illustrated by D'israeli
No, you most likely haven't read it. Or even heard of it. But I have. Serialized in the U.K. in 2000 A.D., the collected "Stickleback" is a genius crime story about a genius criminal, lord of 19th-century London's underworld. The title character, wearing his spine on the outside of his body, is more fiendishly bizarre than Moriarty and Fu Manchu combined, and surrounds himself with a gang of grotesques more freakish than any of Gotham City's rogues. Also appearing at various points are a police detective named Valentine Bey, Buffalo Bill Cody and even Cthulu-esque denizens of the dark. In a market overstuffed with endless costumes endlessly crossing over, "Stickleback" is unique, and that's worth celebrating.
Written and illustrated by Joe Kubert
What's not to love about dinosaurs and cavemen?
I originally checked out the first trade of this series this year because I'd heard so much about it. (Mainly that my Oni Press series “Resurrection” was similar and I was curious to see if that's true. I don't think it is, but I digress.) I read that first trade and found myself buying the next one. By the third book, I realized that I'd been hooked. The pacing, the emotion, the characters... I found myself loving this series before I even really knew why. I had a similar experience with the TV show “SportsNight” and if you've ever watched that show, you know what a high compliment it is to compare anything to it. Here's another compliment: I'm not the biggest fan of zombie stories. For me, “Walking Dead” is all about the characters and the sheer joy that comes from never knowing what's going to happen next or who it's going to happen to.
Happy Holidays from REFLECTIONS! See you in the new year!